Uniqueness Attracts Blog-to-Book Deals

Does your blogged book have great content?Content is king! Content is king! Content is king!

As bloggers and as aspiring authors, this concept gets drilled into our heads. We are told that writing great posts, articles and manuscripts gets readers to our blogs and attracts agents and publishers. Yet, some bloggers can get  blog-to-book deals without writing a single paragraph of real content (depending, of course, upon what you deem real content).

Take for instance the blog-to-book deal that’s been the talk of the blogosphere most recently: Text from Dog. You won’t find one full blog post on Joe Butcher’s blog, also called Text to Dog. Under his nom de plume, October Jones, he created a Tumblr account filled with zany images featuring fictional text messages from his pet bulldog, Cooper. Text from Dog became an instant hit in the blogopshere, quickly gaining 100,000 Tumblr fans and 40,000 followers on Twitter. Months later, Headline Publishing won the rights to Text from Dog‘s first original book, which will be in stores this October.

Obviously, Text from Dog isn’t trying to win a literary prize nor will it do so. It will become a gift book, a coffee table book or a party favor. Joe Butcher’s loyal fans will like the souvenir of a printed book, and people will buy it as a Christmas gift for the dog lovers they know.

This blog-to-book deal falls into the ranks of Love, Mom: Poignant, Goofy, Brilliant Messages from Home (www.postcardsfromyomomma.com), I Can Has Cheezburger (www.icanhas.cheezburger.com) and Sh*t My Kids Ruined: An A-Z Celebration of Kid-Destruction (www.shitmykidsruined.com). A little bit of copy, some funny photos and lots of contributors. They also share four common elements that got them noticed by agents and publishers:

  1. uniqueness
  2. humor
  3. big market
  4. lots of readers

However, I’d stress one element in particular: uniqueness. Each one of these blogs began as a totally different concept never before seen. And it took off. Readers found it, loved it and shared it. The amount of actual written content didn’t matter. The visual content, the angle, the humor, the context–these things mattered. And that’s something to keep in mind, especially in a blogging and publishing world when you can produce video blogs, podcasts and include audio and video in your ebooks produced from your blogged books. Publishers and readers are looking for unique books (and blogs). That’s why you must look at your competition in both the bookstore and the blogosphere prior to beginning your blogged book and find a unique angle for your blogged book.  If you are having trouble doing this on your own, hire a blog-to-book coach (or a book coach) to help you get perspective.

I gave a talk at a library recently and a woman who attended asked me the following question: “Is it bad that I just want my blogged book to have lots of photos and just a tiny bit of copy?”

“Hell, no!” I said. (Well, that’s not exactly what I replied, but I told her it was a good idea to move forward as she planned.) Not if you want to blog that kind of book.

Personally, I want to blog and read a book with great content. But that’s just me. Text from Dog will be funny and cute and unique. I laugh when I go to the blog to check it out for research. I wouldn’t go there every day to read the posts. It’s not worth my time. A lot of other people disagree–obviously.

I recommend blogging books with a focus no producing great content. Think about books you love, and model your blogged book on those. Why did they attract you and other readers? If they are bestsellers, why? I bet the great content had something to do with it.

Maybe that’s why we hear the same advice over and over again: Content is king. Maybe it really should be changed to: Content sells books.

Comments

  1. says

    Excellent points. I’m considering blogging my memoir. I’ve spent about a year doo-diddling around with it and feel like it’s time to be more structured about it. It’s definitely not going to be a Text From Dog kind of thing, unfortunately!

  2. Nina says

    Good for you! And don’t say “unfortunatley”; you could gain lots of readers with great content! Good luck, and keep me posted, especially if those readers (or a publisher) come knocking.

  3. says

    Nina,

    you have just posted the one thing that gives me the biggest problem. I already know that there aren’t a lot of stay-at-home dad and I am slowly making a name for myself as humorous, compassionate and heartfelt. They are things I hold most dear so I don’t have a problem with being labeled as such.

    My problem stems more from content focus. Don’t get me wrong I am able to write meaningful posts (so I have been told) I also like to write or humorous short posts. I have several features on my blog that don’t follow the normal pattern. One example would be Truthful Thoughts. Normally I take a photo and edit it with what a child is truly thinking. I even have a tag line for it. I don’t have enough material for a coffee table book but it is something I could easily focus on.

    Tonight though I published a truthful thoughts with a little different format to see if it works better and has better feel. I even gave it a different title (Comedic Children) than normal and placed it under truthful thoughts. I know that blogging a book is one of my goals and I am currently getting a large collection of different items that could make possible.

    Viewership is a little harder to obtain. I started with a tumblr blog and that is where my following still remains (I have the tumblr and the URL site). I have the facebook fanpage, google plus, stumblr, pinterest all the normal channels and I get tweeted a lot. As a general rule most people that actually stop by my URL enjoy it and seem to come back regularly. Its more of trying to get people there in the first place…..sigh

    I never give up though and I keep blogging forward because I enjoy it.

    Thank you for sharing as always,

    Aaron
    dadblunders recently posted..Comedic Children

  4. Nina says

    Aaron,

    You need to develop a content plan for your book(s). I coach on this. You could probably do it yourself. Uniqueness comes not only from voice, etc., it also comes from looking at the competing and complementary blogs/books, looking at the market, and asking yourself what problems you are solving or questions you are answering for readers–how are you providing benefit to them that others aren’t. What value are you adding to their life that no one else is adding–or how are you doing it differently.

  5. says

    Nina, I totally dig this post. I’ve thought about blog-to-book for a long time. I’m doing this with my high-risk pregnancy posts but I think there’s a market for stories about my nutty family. I just don’t know where to start. Nutty families aren’t all that unique.

    Here’s a sample post. They’re just *characters*:
    http://jennyhansenauthor.wordpress.com/2011/12/12/my-brother-is-a-bag-whore/
    Jenny Hansen recently posted..Things That Moved Me To Tears This Week + a #ROW80 Check-in

  6. Nina says

    You need to find something universal in your characters…people related to universal themes and qualities. And they want to have their problems and issues solved. Are you solving problems and issues related to your nutty famlily, dealing with them in a way others can relate to or learn from?

  7. Nina says

    That’s great, Debbie! Good luck with your blogged book. I hope you find the information you need here. If not, check out my book or join me for coaching–or ask questions on my FB page.

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